The Silicon Valley Voice

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Murali Srinivasan, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Along with other Friends for Life volunteers, Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Murali Srinivasan was serving dinner to 140 seniors at a pizza party at Life’s Garden, a senior apartment complex in Sunnyvale, on March 2.

Srinivasan carried large serving trays of individual salads to tables for six. Then, wearing disposable gloves, he stood at a serving table and plated slices of pizza as seniors lined up to choose regular or veggie.

“It’s an easy way to help for a big reward—seeing the impact of what you’re doing on the smiling faces of people,” said Srinivasan, who was born and raised in Bangalore, India, and came to the U.S. to study in 1984.


“With much volunteering effort, you don’t actually see the recipient. Here, I see everybody,” he said. “It gives you joy when you see happiness. It’s so nice to see the smiles when they get their pizza.”

Srinivasan, whose father died when he was a teenager, looks to his late maternal Uncle Padmanabhan as a role model for community service.

“My uncle was a follower of Gandhi, and he dedicated his life to serving the poor people in rural India,” said Srinivasan.

One example was the creation of an institute to train widows to be self-sufficient.

“I saw my uncle doing all this service without any expectation. That was an inspiration for me. My uncle was an amazing man. Anything he would do, he would think about how he could help poor people,” said Srinivasan.

The pizza party—with live entertainment by Le Perez and Seascape Sounds—was one of the quarterly events organized for Life’s Garden residents by the all-volunteer organization Friends for Life (FFL). Srinivasan has volunteered with FFL since 2022, invited by his neighbor and fellow volunteer Cecil Dobbs.

“It’s always good to give back and uplift society so we can all thrive together,” said Srinivasan, whose community service goes well beyond the walls of Life’s Garden.

“It makes my heart light,” he said.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Silicon Valley. The Won’t You Be My Neighbor column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the rest of the South Bay special — the people who live, work and play here.

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